Williams Cancer Institute

AblationVax™: The Cancer Ablation “Vaccine”

We often use either Montanide ISA 51 or a hydrogel to achieve a depot effect in the tumor microenvironment. If you inject just a water-soluble drug, especially in a non-ablated tumor, much of the drug may exit the tumor microenvironment due to the increased blood flow often found with tumors, creating a wash out effect. This is less of an issue injecting into an ablated tumor, as usually the blood flow has been cut off or reduced by the ablation process. This is another advantage offered by ablation. However, I still feel it is good to use an agent that will cause a slow release and keep the medication for an extended period of time within the tumor environment.
Without going into too much detail of the science behind these findings (which you can find in the References), the basic process involves killing the tumor with cryoablation that will simultaneously stimulate the immune system, and adding vaccine adjuvants and immune checkpoint inhibitor drugs directly at the ablation site so that the typical aspects that will inhibit an effective immune response are blocked. This process creates an effective tumor “vaccine” which, while not technically a vaccine against cancer that healthy people can use to protect against cancer cells forming in the first place, does act in the same way as a vaccine for those who already have cancer cells proliferating in their bodies. The effect is not just the elimination of cancer at the ablation site, but also the stimulation of a complete response against all of that cancer cell type in the body.
Essentially, the patient’s own tumor has created a vaccine response in the body. Different than most vaccines, a vaccine made from your own tumor in your body is specific for you. It may also target numerous tumor antigens, giving the immune system antigen diversity.
This way even if a cancer tries to hide, by mutating and disguising an antigen, this technique of AblationVax™ can have multiple targets, so the cancer typically would have to hide numerous antigens at once, which is far less likely to happen.
Jason R Williams, MD DABR
Chief of Interventional Oncology
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